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Federer Opens Bid For Sixth Basel Title

Basel, Switzerland

Federer© Swiss Indoors BaselRoger Federer is chasing his sixth hometown title.

World No. 1 Roger Federer opened his bid for a sixth title at his hometown tournament on Monday with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over German qualifier Benjamin Becker in the first round of the Swiss Indoors Basel. The Swiss rallied from a break down in the second set and broke the No. 83-ranked Becker three times in total to claim victory in 88 minutes.

"He did well," Federer said of Becker. "He did serve well when it was important, so credit to him. When I did have my small chances, I hope I could’ve done a little bit better, but overall I’m still very happy with tonight’s performance.

The 31-year-old Federer is contesting this ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard court tournament for the 13th time. He won the trophy in 2006-08, 2010-11 and was runner-up in 2000-01 and 2009. He has a 44-7 event record.

"Ever since my first win here, the pressure has actually gone instead of increased, in my opinion," he shared. "I feel I can come here and just perform, enjoy and try my best. It’s pretty simple, actually, the approach.

"I know if I lose, I lose points, but I’ve so long gone over this hurdle of having to defend points and this whole rankings system - I know how it works, so it doesn’t really consume me. For me it’s all about trying to play my best, enjoy the crowd and show them what I got. Coming back [to Basel] as the World No. 1 is an amazing feeling, so I think more of that than the pressure of having to win or having to defend or having to win again."

Federer is looking to defend crucial points in the battle with Novak Djokovic to finish as the year-end World No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. The right-hander is bidding to win his seventh tour-level title of the season, adding to, among others, triumphs at Wimbledon (d. Murray) and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells (d. Isner), Madrid (d. Berdych) and Cincinnati (d. Djokovic).

Third-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet rallied past Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in his first-round match. Gasquet, a two-time Basel quarter-finalist, capitalised on all three of his break points over the final two sets to record the one hour, 43-minute victory.

Gasquet is looking to boost his outside chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, currently No. 11 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race to London. He began the week 940 points behind countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the eighth spot.

Elsewhere, Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot broke serve four times to defeat Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4 in 83 minutes, while France’s Julien Benneteau fired 12 aces as he battled from a set down to beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes.

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